Youth is wasted on the young, so the old adage goes. Yet it couldn’t be more misguided when applied to The Subways. Billy Lunn, Charlotte Cooper and Josh Morgan have had a rapid rise this year, helped in no small part by their energetic, incendiary live shows.
Although the debut album Young For Eternity wasn’t quite the stone-cold classic that its singles had hinted it could be, The Subways are still one of the most exciting new bands in Britain. They could be accused of lacking originality, but if you want your rock’n’roll played loud, with more hooks than a fly fishing box, then look no further than this trio.
Sadly, the Leadmill appeared to attract a fair amount of boozed up blokes tonight who couldn’t resist chanting that charming line “get your tits out for the lads” the minute bass player Charlotte walked onto stage. Thankfully, the idiots seemed to be in the minority tonight, and as soon as Billy Lunn picked up his guitar and launched into With You, the entire audience drowned out the football chants.
With You is the perfect Subways song – loud, incredibly catchy and possessing some impossibly romantic lyrics (“When I’m with you, it seems so easy”), it also makes the perfect accompaniment to throw yourself around to. They’re incredibly exciting to watch as well, with Cooper a tiny bundle of kinetic energy, shaking her blonde hair like there’s no tomorrow, and displaying all the chemistry with Lunn that you’d expect from a real-life couple.
The vast majority of the album was played, with particularly loud cheers being reserved for the rockabilly flavoured At 1am, and the audience on vocal duties for the superb I Want To Know What You Have Got To Say. The highlight though was undoubtably Oh Yeah, the most exciting three minutes of pop heard this year. Lunn even jumped into the audience to crowd surf at one point, giving the security staff a headache.
What’s so impressive about The Subways is how confident and assured they seem on stage. The Lunn brothers are both born rock stars, and Charlotte is simply the coolest female bass player since Kim Deal. They own the stage like veterans twice their age, and it’s odd to think that not very long ago they were all still at school.
After a bouncy version of Mary and the best ‘na-na-nah’s since Hey Jude in Somewhere, the encore consisted of forthcoming single No Goodbyes and the frenetic Rock & Roll Queen. “I want you to go fuckin’ nuts for this one” announced Billy beforehand, and the Leadmill audience obeyed his command – even if it did threaten to turn nasty at one point when Lunn had clearly had enough of the obscene shouts at his girlfriend and waded into the audience to confront the culprit.
So although youth may be wasted on some young people, The Subways are embodying what it’s all about. They may owe a huge debt of thanks to Nirvana and Oasis, but while they fizzle with energy and effervescence like this, they’re pretty damn irresistible.